Feature Match Round 6: Ari Lax vs. Bryan Hockey
Ari was playing Storm—an unusual choice for him. Would he be able to overcompensate for his considerable inexperience and overcome Bryan's U/W Counterbalance deck? On a more serious note, Ari sat down knowing he faced a tough matchup against Bryan, and knowing that Bryan had enough experience playing Storm to not trip up.
Ari struggles to push through a Counterbalance.
Ari's 1 was soundly defeated by Bryan's 20, and Bryan began with Island. Ari drew his eighth card and went into the tank before playing Polluted Delta and breaking it for Underground Sea, Brainstorming. He resolved Lion's Eye Diamond, and passed the turn. Counterbalance for Bryan gave him a randomized safety valve.
Ari decided to test it with Lotus Petal, but Bryan declined to reveal. Breaking the Petal to cast Silence, Ari put Bryan all-in on that Counterbalance before playing Polluted Delta. He fetched, going to 18, and used Volcanic Island to Rite of Flame. Bryan revealed... Terminus.
“It's a miracle!” Ari shouted. But that did lock him out of Empty the Warrens...
Now going off with nothing to stop him, Ari played a second Rite of Flame to hit four red mana and then cast Burning Wish, breaking Diamond for blue in response and casting Diminishing Returns as his sixth spell for the turn, with a single red and Underground Sea available to him. That shuffled both decks, and gave Bryan another shot to blind Counterbalance Ari's combo.
Casting his second Petal, Ari got Bryan to reveal to Counterbalance—it was Wasteland. The Petal was countered, and Ari sighed before passing the turn with a shrug. “Needed you to flip a three or greater,” he admitted. Wasteland destroyed his Underground Sea, and Bryan ended the turn in the driver's seat.
Ari's next Petal resolved, Bryan Revealing Swords, but he Brainstormed in response to Burning Wish to reveal Counterbalance. Another Burning Wish, and Bryan cast Snapcaster Mage for Brainstorm to counter, once more revealing Counterbalance. Another Wasteland left Ari with just a Gemstone Mine and Lotus Petal. He tried Lion's Eye Diamond, resolving it, then sacrificed his Mine to Dark Ritual.
Bryan revealed Vedalken Shackles, and Ari was back in it... theoretically. Sacrificing Petal for Rite of Flame, Ari went to BBBRR and then cast Infernal Tutor—Bryan revealed Force of Will and a blue card to immediately earn the concession.
Bryan 1, Ari 0
Bryan's got an on-deck advantage he just needs to maintain.
Ari kept and fetched Underground Sea, passing the turn. Brian played Island, and Ari dropped Volcanic island on his next turn before playing Chrome Mox imprinting Ponder, Lotus Petal Lion's Eye Diamond, and Infernal Tutor, cracking the LED for black mana.
“Do you have Counterbalance on two? Because that would be depressing,” Ari admitted. Bryan had Wasteland for Underground Sea, and once Ari passed the turn Counterbalance did indeed resolve. That left Bryan tapped out, and he failed to blind flip for Ari's Burning Wish on Empty the Warrens.
Land and pass for Bryan, while Ari just drew and shipped. Fetching Underground Sea, Ari cast Duress. Snapcaster Mage from Counterbalance did not counter, and Ari saw Terminus, Snapcaster, Force of Will, Entreat the Angels, and Spell Pierce—ouch! Bryan lost Force of Will, and Ari passed with a look of depression on his face.
Bryan fetched to shuffle away Snapcaster, getting Volcanic Island. Wasteland for Underground Sea, and a blindly revealed Spell Pierce to counter Brainstorm kept Bryan's advantaged position firmly in place. He had a fetchland and a second Counterbalance on the next turn—double the fun!
Ari cast Rite of Flame, and another blind reveal (Pyroblast this time) countered it. The players passed with intermittent land drops, Bryan making it to six and now officially threatening Terminus. More lands for everyone, Ari struggling to build a critical mass.
Engineered Explosives on zero destroyed Chrome Mox and Lotus Petal, reducing Ari to Gemstone Mine, Volcanic Island, and Polluted Delta. Ari cast Brainstorm, and Bryan simply Pyroblasted. Entreat the Angels for one 4/4 flier resolved, and now Ari was on a five-turn clock... unless he cracked a fetch.
Counterbalance revealed Snapcaster Mage on Lotus Petal, and Ari cast Duress. Bryan fetched in response, chancing a blind flip once more, and revealed... another Snapcaster Mage. Duress discarded Force of Will to leave Bryan on two Spell Pierce and Terminus, and Ari cast Rite of Flame after landing another Lotus Petal. He had two Petals and two fetchlands back, capable of paying for both Pierces, and the Rite gave him two red. Dark Ritual followed, then Tendrils of Agony for seven copies, with Bryan on 16 life.
He Spell Pierced one copy, and Ari nodded—his two fetchlands and Petal remained uncracked. That put life totals at 29 to 4 in Ari's favor. He dropped to 25 as Bryan attacked, and Ari dropped Gemstone Mine then passed. He went to 21, and then 17—and Bryan resolved Sensei's Divining Top.
“I'm probably dead,” Ari noted.
Two Snapcasters joined the party, attacking Ari to 9 life now, and Bryan sent him into “do or die” mode with that play. Ari cast Chrome Mox, imprinted Silence, and then cast Dark Ritual before resolving Empty the Warrens for six Goblins. Bryan Topped around, drew, and played Jace. Brainstorming, he swung for 4 damage and then passed the turn.
Popping Top for Terminus on Ari's turn, he cleared the board and had Counterspell for Ari's Burning Wish off the top just after. Revealing another copy of Entreat the Angels, Bryan locked up the game.
Bryan 2, Ari 0